Grandparenting

Grandmas — and sometime grandpas — have to be as good as it gets this side of heaven. Yesterday a friend’s account of her time with her grandkids at the shore drew me back to fond memories of my own Grandma Wieseler.

Theresa had just returned from a week with her seven grandchildren. The kids are scattered all over the U.S. so she gathered them at their house on the shore for a week of family togetherness. Yes, this would provide terrific bonding-time for the cousins. But Theresa was also indulging her own deep affection for them — there was plenty of healthy self-interested “grand-mothering” in her plan as well.

Although she was grateful that one parent was present at the beginning and a different Mom came at the end of the week, Theresa mostly wanted the grandkids to herself. Her rationale will be obvious to all of you who have grandkids. It was an Aha! moment for me! She explained, “Kids are just different when parents aren’t around. We have more fun and get to know each other so much better when they are out of the picture.”

Of course, some aspects of being an uncle — and now grand-uncle — prepared me to understand what Theresa was saying. But I also recognized she was speaking of a deep, intimate bond that I will never know. All the more reason to treasure the enduring love my siblings and I experienced with our Grandma Wieseler.

Perhaps the difference comes down to the necessary and appropriate roles parents must play. They need to discipline, proscribe, direct and say “no” as often as “yes.” Grandparents are free of responsibility to be that kind of authority figure. Grandparents are allowed to be much more about love, pure and simple!

Theresa and I mused a bit about all this. Then we wondered whether our experience of God is more like a Grandma or like a parent. Hmmm! Of course, we knew which we wanted it to be. But really, which is it? This seems pretty important for Christians to figure out. Jesus, after all, taught us to call God “Father”, abba, papa.

I have long claimed that my first and best introduction to God was my Grandma Wieseler. She was unconditional love personified. Yes there is a need for discipline, proscriptions, direction and “no” in the practice of our faith. But that’s early on, when we are children. We are meant to grow-up. Isn’t that the point of good parenting?

One day, some of us even become grandparents — in this, God is pleased!

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